Thursday, October 20, 2005

A New Kind of Feminism

A Harvard professor has given a speech urging us to develop a new kind of feminism because the old kinds don't work. They tend to make women uppity and sexually wild and destroy the patriarchal family to the very stump. They also don't take into account how evolutionary psychologists have carefully proved (without any actual genetic evidence) that women are not promiscuous and that men are, which to this professor means that women are harmed by feminism.

The professor, one Harvey C. Mansfield, has also written a book called Manliness. You get the drift of his arguments by now, I'm sure, but just for the sake of completeness here are a few quotes:

We need a new feminism," said Mansfield, the Kenan professor of government, "because we have a new way of life."

According to Mansfield, this change in traditional society has grown out of women's desire to achieve success in the workplace and at home. In his lecture, entitled, "Feminism and The Autonomy of Women", the professor identified this problem as one arising from "radical feminism" which sought to "lower women to the level of men" in terms of sexual behavior.

Regarding that behavior, Mansfield wondered if "hook ups," which he initially referred to as "polymorphous promiscuity" are good for women.

"Hook ups," the perennially-dapper professor said, "will get you in a bad habit that is very hard to get rid of."

"By the age of 30, you see men," he cautioned, "who are used to getting free samples" and will not enter into loyal, reliable relationships. Citing evolutionary biology research, Mansfield said that "men are interested in quantity, and women are interested in quality."

"Women play the men's game, which they are bound to lose. Without modesty, there is no romance—it isn't so attractive or so erotic," said the professor.

Tracing the roots of "radical feminism" to the writings of the 20th-century French writer Simon De Beauvoir, Mansfield argued that the questions and confusion facing feminists arise from their attempt at achieving "autonomy" and asserting that "men and women have no distinct nature."

I wonder who decided to change the sex of Simone de Beauvoir? Professor Mansfield doesn't know feminist thought very well, and the whole thing is a little bit hilarious. But there is a deeper reason why I am writing about it, and it has to do with the idea of the new kind of feminism that professor Mansfield and so many other wingnuts advocate.

What would this new kind of feminism look like? I guess it would start from the premises given here, about the differences in the basic characteristics of the sexes and would go on from there. It would probable make having multiple sex partners illegal, maybe even punishable by death. It would fight against all human autonomy. Men would be genetically tested for "quality", and only the best would be allowed to mate. And so on.

Now, all that was a joke and not a very good one. I have a lot of trouble seeing any type of feminism, in the sense of equality of the sexes, in any of the "new feminism" arguments of the right that I have read. All they are really saying is that women should go back to being Victorian.